The Good, The Bad & The Queen are a supergroup that need no introduction, made up of Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz), Paul Simonon (The Clash), Tony Allen (Fela Kuti), and Simon Tong (The Verve). This project first saw the light in 2007 in the form of a debut album The Observer called “one of the most surprising and magical albums Damon Albarn has been responsible for.” After eleven years of silence, this past November they released Merrie Land, their highly anticipated comeback and an album unquestionably influenced by the current political and social landscape. Straddling the line between melancholy and hope, this work is a reflection upon what it means to be British in our times, an era of indeterminacy as evidenced by Brexit and the international panorama.
Pretty much everything SWMRS begins with the same bit of trivia. Yes, this Californian punk rock band features Billie Joe Armstrong’s offspring – even if this wasn’t the case, though, one would imagine comparisons to Green Day would surely still be drawn.
After all, SWMRS, completed by frontman Cole Becker, his brother Max on lead guitar and bassist Seb Mueller, share many sonic traits with the arena-conquering band they’re so often associated with. A punk band at their core, their sound borrows a lot from out-and-out pop – LP ‘Drive North’ offers rousing choruses with frequent nods to The Beach Boys as much as Ramones, The Clash, or Stiff Little Fingers. Ahead of the release of their new album Berkeley’s On Fire next month, SWMRS have unveiled a brand-new single and video, Trashbag Baby.
After making waves with his debut album Scum and the seven-track Civil Disorder, Rat Boy has teamed up with Tim Armstrong for his new project Internationally Unknown. Separated by 30 years of age and the Atlantic Ocean, Rat Boy and Armstrong sound like the very definition of an odd couple. But they immediately connected on their first phone call, through a shared love for mixing the visceral energy of punk with hip-hop beats. In many ways, it’s hardly surprising: both musicians share similar influences and often reflect on their upbringing in their lyrics. The pair met in Los Angeles and immediately captured three demos on their first day together, with members of The Interrupters backing them on bass and drums. Rat Boy has diverse influences which echo, at various points, The Clash, Beastie Boys, The Prodigy, Rebel MC, Green Day and Run DMC. Standout tracks include the title track which contrasts manic verses with an anthemic downtempo hook; the aggy street-punk rush of opening track Chip on my Shoulder. Tonight in concert at La Nau.
Vant are a London-based indie rock quartet who use their music to express frustration and dissatisfaction with the state of the world, citing politically charged bands such as the Clash and Rage Against the Machine as inspirations. The group’s sound is appropriately furious, blending hard-edged garage rock and punk influences. Vant started in 2013 as a solo project of guitarist/vocalist Mattie Vant, who was living in Newcastle, England at the time. He moved to London and began managing a venue called Birthdays, where he met bassist Billy Morris and guitarist Henry Eastham. The three began making music together, and the band’s lineup solidified in early 2014, when Mattie Vant invited drummer Martin Söderin to move from Sweden to London to join the band. The group spent the following year working on material, and in 2015 they attracted the attention of Parlophone, who immediately signed the band upon hearing their 80-second debut single, “Parasite,” which the band released on their own Dumb Blood Records label. A second single, “The Answer,” followed on Parlophone, and the group embarked on an extensive U.K. tour. Drummer David “Greenie” Green joined the band in 2015, replacing Söderin. Following a long period of intense touring, Vant has released their full-length debut, Dumb Blood.